By Brenda Satrum
What topics do you avoid with your parents?
After the national gathering of my denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, voted to allow practicing (practicing?) gay and lesbian persons in committed, monogamous relationships to be called as clergy to congregations that wish to call them (nobody’s being forced here), I had to talk sex and religion with my parents.
We don’t agree. Mom and Dad, whom I’ll love deeply and hold in utmost respect until the day I die, believe the Bible is crystal clear: same-gender sexual relationships are always sinful. While I understand that the Bible, which I’ll love deeply and hold in utmost respect until the day I die, unambiguously portrays homosexual relationships as sinful, I also understand those who say that the people and situations the Bible condemns are not the loving, self-giving, faithful same-gender relationships we see today among the best of our homosexual neighbors.
We don’t agree. That hurts. I wish I could agree with them. It would be so clear, so right, so much more comfortable that this darned ambiguity. I wish that within our big church, shoot, within our own congregation we could agree. But we don’t. And it hurts.
Sincere, devoted, sin-fleeing, Christ-seeking people stand on both sides of this issue. Let’s set aside for a moment those who are either gloating or cussing. The best of us are just trying to do the right thing – respectfully, lovingly.
Those who believe homosexuality is sinful are trying to love others by telling the truth about behaviors and attitudes they believe God desires to heal. If they let go of this truth of ancient Judeo-Christian law (which Jesus came “not to abolish, but to fulfill”), how many of our homosexual neighbors will relax, justified, into relationships that harm them and others? Be honest: some homosexual relationships, perhaps even many, do result from unhealed abuse, broken families or other dysfunction.
Those who believe homosexual relationships can be good and healthy and blessed by God, follow the Jesus who spoke to Gentile women and healed their kids, who touched lepers and bleeding people, who went to dinner with people his culture and religion condemned. They follow the Jesus who broke the law but lived its heart by caring for widows, orphans and aliens wherever he found them. The Bible condemns lust and abuse wherever it finds it, they may say – so how’s that marriage working for you? We’re kind, self-sacrificing and faithful to each other…are you?
We don’t agree, my parents and I, but we’re family, and we’re stuck with each other. We don’t agree – my brothers and sisters at Trinity, in our denomination, and in the broader Christian community – but we’re family. We who trust and follow Jesus, right and wrong on this issue, are stuck with each other, now and forever. Like squirming kids, we’re held in the arms of the one who loves us to death. So I tell you what, dear family: let’s calm the squirming, follow our consciences and practice loving and serving each other, especially when we don’t agree. OK?